There are a host of new additions to iOS 5 Beta 5, including Twitter integration, a new way to read content on the Web, iMessage and much more. However, it's Apple's new and improved Notifications system that might be most important to users.
Previously, when users received notifications in iOS, the platform would interrupt whatever they were doing. So, if they were playing a game and received a text message, iOS would show them the message and make them cancel the notification to keep playing. This time around, everything is different
While in an application, users who receive a notification will no longer be forced to interact with a message box. Instead, when a notification is received, it's displayed at the top of the screen, away from the action in the particular application. At that time, users can either opt to click on the box to go to the application sending the notification or simply ignore it. If the latter option is chosen, the notification disappears after a few seconds.
What's more, Apple has also added a notification dashboard, called Notification Center. By swiping from the top of the display down, users can be anywhere in the operating system and see what notifications they might have missed. Everything-from text messages to missed calls and application notifications-is listed there. The Center also features weather and stock information.
When clicking a notification in the Center, users will go right to the respective application. In addition, notifications are listed on the lock screen, and can be accessed by swiping.
Overall, the Notification system in iOS 5 is outstanding. It's no longer intrusive, and giving users the option to do what they want, when they want, was a smart move on Apple's part. However, the Notification Center could be a bit more useful; the application doesn't allow users to add other content alongside weather and stocks to the page. Hopefully, in the finished product, Apple will allow users to do so.
Apple has also taken aim at BlackBerry Messenger with iMessage. That application essentially allows users to send instant messages to those on other iOS-based devices, rather than waste cash on a text message between those platforms. Because so few people have iOS 5, I wasn't able to send a non-SMS (Short Message Service) communication to others. However, the platform appears to work quite well, which indicates it should be a nice addition when the final build of iOS 5 is launched.
The addition of Twitter integration across iOS 5 is another nice option for the social network's users. With the help of the feature, users can tweet content from a host of built-in programs, including Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps. To do so, users need only tap the tweet button, input a message and they're all set. In my experience, the application works exceedingly well, and delivers on Apple's promise of making it easier to be social. However, considering the popularity of Facebook, it would have been nice to send messages through that social network, as well.